It’s no secret what Khabib Nurmagomedov wants to do every time he steps into the octagon. The opponent knows what to expect but it’s still extremely hard to stop the unbeaten Russian lightweight scoring the takedown, controlling from the top, raining down his own special brand of ground n’ pound, and imposing his will.
Once he is in that position, the opponent’s tactics too are very predictable, they want to find a way, any way, to get back to their feet. It’s an almost futile task though and it visibly drains the resolve from fighters.
Eddie Bravo, coach of Nurmagomedov’s upcoming opponent, interim lightweight champion Tony Ferguson, has been as impressed as anybody by ‘The Eagle’ and his flight towards the peak of the lightweight rankings. In fact, during a recent appearance on WFAN’s Outside the Cage podcast, Bravo admitted that Nurmagomedov is likely the best ever at what he does.
“Khabib will be the toughest guy in the lightweight division for a very long time,” said the founder of 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu. “Conor [McGregor] would be an easier fight for Tony. Khabib’s going to be tough.”
“Nobody is doing what he’s doing with his ground and pound, with his takedowns, with his ground control, and his smashing. He’s the best, probably of all time, really(via BloodyElbow).”
Bravo, however, added that his charge plans to go about things in a very different way than Nurmagomedov’s previous opponents/victims if he ends up on the floor in the main event of UFC 223 on April 7th.
Ferguson plans on meeting fire with fire.
“It’s a tall order, but most people are running from Khabib when they’re on the ground,” Bravo said. “They’re spending most of their time trying to get back up, trying to drag themselves up on the fence, and he just rides them and drags them down.”
“That’s a good strategy in certain situations. But we’re going to turn around and attack him,” he added. “We’re going to thank him for taking Tony down, and we’re going to throw some fire at him. It’s going to be different. No one has done that.
“I’m sure his defence is going to be tight. I’m sure he’s going to be studying rubber guard and all that, but we’re going to come there with fire.
“We’re going to come right at him.”
No doubt that the below clip popped into some of your minds upon reading those quotes.
It is a bold strategy but it shouldn’t come as a major surprise to hear Ferguson’s team backing him to cause Nurmagomedov problems on the mat. Ferguson is a very good grappler himself. He has a solid wrestling background and 10 of his 23 career wins have come via submission, including 5 of his last 7. He won’t panic if, or rather when, he ends up on his back either. In winning the interim title last October, Ferguson showed how dangerous his guard is, submitting talented wrestler Kevin Lee with a triangle choke. Training with Bravo, one of the great outside the box thinkers in martial arts, ‘El Cucuy’ will also have plenty of funky, unpredictable stuff in his arsenal that we have yet to see from him.